President William Clinton,
President of the United States; Your Majesty King Hussein, King of the Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan; President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab
Republic of Egypt; Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, Prime Minister of Spain and
President in Office of the European Council; Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister
of Israel; your excellencies; ministers and ambassadors; ladies and gentlemen:
We are gathered
today under the sponsorship of President Clinton, who has generously offered to
host the signing of this agreement. It has been two years since we met at the
White House to sign the Declaration of Principles which we and our Israeli
partners had agreed to in Oslo. We meet again today to make new headway in
giving hope to this historic process -- the process of realizing a credible
peace, reconciliation, and co-existence between the Palestinian and Israeli
people, and the peace of the brave, which we achieved on Egyptian land at Taba
under President Mubarak’s auspices. A significant portion of Palestinian
national rights reverts today to the Palestinian people through their control of
the cities, villages, and populated areas. Recovery of this portion is a step in
the implementation of the interim agreement, the signing of which we are
gathered here to witness. It is also a step which paves the way to free and
democratic Palestinian elections capping, thereby, the political components
required for the establishment of an independent Palestinian national entity on
the Palestinian territories.
These steps, which required
tremendous efforts as well as exhausting and relentless work throughout the past
months, do not make us oblivious of the fact that added diligence lies ahead to
implement this agreement on our land in the West Bank. We still carry on our
shoulders many other tasks, such as moving to the permanent status negotiations.
The permanent status negotiations will deal with such issues as settlements,
the delineation of the borders, the rights of Palestinian refugees as determined
by the international legitimacy, and the fundamental issue concerning the status
of Jerusalem, which our people, irrespective of their faith -- Muslims,
Christians, or Jews -- consider to be the heart and soul of their entity and the
center of their cultural, spiritual, and economic life. I would say that the
sanctity of Jerusalem for us all dictates that we make it the joint cornerstone
and the capital of peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli people,
inasmuch as it is a beacon for believers all over the world. We urge you all to
recognize the importance of this historic interim step. It demonstrates the
irreversibility of the peace process. Its distinct significance lies in the
verdict passed by history, the international community, and human civilization
at the turn of the century -- that a just and comprehensive peace be established
on this sacred land, whereby the Israeli and Palestinian people would co-exist
on the basis of mutual recognition of the rights, while enjoying a quality and
self-determination without occupation or repeated wars, and, without terrorism.
At this point, I must tell our
Israeli partners from this solemn rostrum and in the presence of our brethren
and friends who have come here from the region and from all over the world,
particularly those who contributed to the realization of this agreement, that
our past experience underscores the need to be more credible and committed to
our steps in the future. And the commitment should be precise, honest, and
mutual. For our part, we will honor our commitments. That is why the
continuation and expansion of the settlement drive, as the situation in the city
of Hebron and elsewhere shows, lead to the persistence of tensions. Likewise,
continued qualms about a new and dependent Palestinian birth convey to each and
every Palestinian the feeling that his or her life shall remain in jeopardy.
Today, standing before you, I tell you with courage and a sense of
responsibility that our participation in the great peace process means that we
are betting everything on the future. Therefore, we must condemn and foreswear
violence totally, not only because the use of violence is morally reprehensible,
but because it undermines Palestinian aspirations to the realization of peace
and the exercise of our political and national options and the achievement of
economic and cultural progress in Palestine and in the region.
From this day on, we do not want to
see any waste of, or threat to, any innocent Palestinian life or any innocent
Israeli life. Enough killing and enough killing of innocent people.
I urge you, Mr. President, together
with all our brethren and friends gathered here, to keep up the drive for a
comprehensive and just settlement in our region on all tracks, especially the
Syrian and Lebanese tracks, to complete all aspects of the process. Ladies and
gentlemen, we are still striving on two parallel fronts. One is to achieve a
just political solution to our problem; the other is to build a homeland on
modern and democratic grounds. For us to succeed on both fronts, we are bound to
base the emerging Palestinian political system on the principles of liberty,
democracy, separation of powers, freedom of expression, and national initiative.
We are also bound to continue building Palestinian institutions and the
Palestinian national economy. But this enterprise is still in its early stages,
and our institutions have yet to mature.
The road ahead remains long, indeed.
We look forward to your continued support of our people. And we thank all
friendly and brotherly donors for their assistance. Mr. President, the
experience of your great country -- the country of freedom, democracy, and human
rights -- taught us that freedom is absolutely indivisible. And here, I would
like to emphasize to you and to our people and to our devoted friends that our
people’s freedom will remain lacking without all our detainees walking free. All
the martyrs, the wounded, and the victims shared one dream. They dreamt of
freedom and a just peace for their children, for Israeli children, and for the
future generations on both sides. In keeping with that dream and with that
correct vision, we shall continue along this path -- the path and reconciliation
of the brave, notwithstanding its difficulties.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I
thank you deeply for your devotion to this process and the historic
reconciliation. I greatly appreciate your personal involvement and the role
played by your able aides and by members of your Administration who helped us
all along to overcome and settle difficulties.
I am very grateful to my brother,
His Excellency President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, for his great and sincere
efforts and for his fruitful involvement until the Taba Agreement was crowned
with success. I hail the support of the custodial of the two holy shrines, King
Fahd, and the stand and support of His Majesty King Hassan II. I especially
thank my brother, His Majesty King Hussein, for his support, for his efforts,
and for his invaluable counseling.
I thank President Zine El Abidine
Ben Ali for his diligence and efforts. I also thank my brethren, the Arab
leaders, for lending us a willing hand. I appreciate the role of the Russian
sponsor and that of President Yeltsin, who spared no efforts or advice to push
the peace process closer to its historic destination.
I appreciate, too, the role of
permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. I expressed my
appreciation to Norway, a friendly country that has guided us throughout the
process. I thank the presidency in office and the member states of the European
Union who exerted maximum efforts and extended great support throughout this
march. I thank Japan, a friendly country whose backing was vital to our efforts.
I thank the friendly and brotherly nations which helped realize this historic
event, particularly the non-aligned movement, the African countries, and the
I am also grateful and thankful to
Mr. Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel; and Mr. Peres, the Israeli Foreign
Minister; and their able aides and assistants for all their tireless efforts
they exerted with us to reach this joint agreement. I tell them, let us nurture
this peace of the brave for the sake of our grandchildren, of our people, and of
the region as a whole.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
I wish to thank you and the First Lady, and I wish to thank your country and
your people. My best wishes and happiness and prosperity for all of you.